Team Culture and the Role of Clear Expectations in Team Success

Your Teams Can Succeed When They Understand What You Want From Them

Positive team culture in the workplace
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In an effective team culture, the concept of context is addressed. Team members understand why they are participating on the team and how the team fits within their organization. When you consider factors that make a team successful, understanding their organization's expectations is one of the top twelve factors in team success.

In an effective team culture, team members understand where the work of their team fits in the total context of their organization's strategic plan and success goals. This is important because teams that feel that they are part of something bigger than themselves tend to experience increased engagement and work satisfaction.

When the organizational culture supports teamwork, team members understand how the strategy of using teams fits in the total context of their organization's strategic plan and success goals, too. Team members understand why using teams will help their organization attain its business goals—and how they can attain their personal goals through effective participation.

In fact, they understand the context of a team culture so well, that they are convinced that teams are the only way their organization will excel.

Older Generations of Employees and Team Culture

This is an understanding that you will need to woo Baby Boomer employees, and to a degree, Gen X employees, to experience. Especially your Baby Boomers represent a generation that consisted of fully contributing individual performers. These employees had little experience of teams, other than athletic teams, and it was difficult to convince them that team-based culture and team expectations were superior ways in which they could contribute.

A whole generation of consultants made their living working with these employees to help them understand the positive contributions that teams and a teamwork culture could make in an organization. Older Gen Xers are in this group of employees as well.

But, if you think about how both of these generations of employees were raised, it is clear why team participation and contribution was a challenge to their thinking and experience. They were rewarded for individual grades through 12 - 18 years of education. Classes rarely worked in a teamwork fashion except in pairs.

First jobs rarely gave them any experience of teams. So, after experiencing a career of individual contribution, teams became the great new thing in workplaces. And, generations of employees with little teamwork experience were expected to get on board.

Millennial employees see teams differently. Schools got on board with teams and teamwork and Millennials have experienced teams their entire lives.

In fact, I hired a millennial employee who pounded on my desk during the interview and demanded to be part of a team if we decided to employ her. It was a refreshing experience after spending years constantly encouraging an environmental culture of teamwork.

Effective Teams Spend Time Defining Their Culture

In a successful team culture, teams understand where their work fits in the total context of the organization's mission, goals, principles, vision, and values. Team members spend time defining their team culture by agreeing upon team norms and expectations within the company's overall team context.

They make certain that they have all of the information that they need to successfully perform their team charter, the reason for the team's existence. If they lack any of the twelve factors necessary to effective team performance, they will struggle unnecessarily on team issues rather than directing their energy to accomplish the task for which the team was formed.

Finally, team members understand that 20 percent of the problems that they will experience as a team will fall within the context of the task or mission the team is assigned to accomplish. The other 80 percent of the problems they experience will relate to their team culture and the processes team members establish and commit to for interacting with each other as team members.

An additional thought is necessary for the team to determine how the team will interact with the rest of the organization. Within their team, this communication and contact will reinforce and enhance the team's understanding of why they exist and what they are expected to contribute.

Establishing thoughtful reporting requirements will help team members know when it is appropriate to report progress and needs to other teams, departments, or the organization as a whole. This will prevent what other team members may see as leaking or demonstrating disloyalty to the team.